Junior hockey is a bit of a confusing beast, and for those who are not in the middle of the madness, it is often unclear on exactly how many junior positions are out there. In this article, we look to break down some of these barriers to entry, and will review Junior B, Junior A, Major Junior and US Junior leagues, and approximately how many positions are up for grabs.
Junior B is often a battling ground for your kids who are looking to get to the next level, and some of the stars in the NHL battled their way through the ranks to get to the next level. There are roughly 20 Junior B leagues across the country, ranging from the top leagues such as the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League to the lower ranked leagues such as the Thunder Bay Junior B Hockey League. That is a lot of opportunities, and if you do the napkin math, you are looking at an average of 10 teams per league, with 20 associations, that is roughly 4000 junior B spots across the country. Not too shabby for leagues that are designed to get you to Junior A or above through development and game time.
The Junior A path is a little more set, with players who are not yet good enough to make major junior programs sharpening their skills in these extremely competitive leagues. Junior A in Canada is played under the Canadian Junior Hockey League which consists of 10 leagues stretching from the British Columbia Hockey League on the west coast to the Maritime Hockey League on the east coast. The league has 132 teams across the country, which works out to 2640 player positions up for the taking. Not too bad, and when you consider thousands of NHL players started their career in Junior A, it might be the perfect place for you to hone your skills.
Often considered the top tier junior league in the world, the Canadian Hockey League has three leagues under it; the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With media coverage, lots of travel and sold out arenas, the CHL often is the proving ground for young prospects to show their stuff before making the jump to the NHL here in Canada and the United States. The CHL has 60 teams within its ranks, which works out to roughly 1200 player positions up for grabs each year. As the premier junior league in the world, the CHL is the ideal home to a developing prospect that can showcase their skills to pro scouts and general managers week in and week out.
USHL, and NAHL
Junior hockey in the United States is a bit different than up North but just as competitive. The competitions are split into three tiers, with the United States Hockey League being tier one, North American Hockey League being level two, and the Eastern Hockey League and North American 3 Hockey League as the sanctioned tier three competitions. The USHL has started to make strides in development, and currently is a tier below major junior for competitiveness. However, this league does offer 17 teams across the country, which provides primarily US-born players 340 roster spots to fill. While the North American Hockey League, the tier two competition in the US junior system provides players with over 480 opportunities. When you bring in the tier three competitions, the United States Junior leagues offer players over 1500 junior positions to the US and international players.
Adding all of the junior options in Canada and the United States together, there are over 9000 roster spots each year on junior clubs, and do you know the best way to find out about all of them? Sign up for Roster Point and start talking to junior teams across North America today!